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Black Sails Seasons 1 and 2 [DVD]
Black Sails Seasons 1 and 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Toby Stephens
Price: £17.76

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You're not Blackbeard...", 4 Sept. 2015
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I don't often have the patience to sit and watch a series unless it is very, very good. I am, admittedly, a man with little patience with modern binge-viewing shows. I love the Song of Ice & Fire books, but watching the series Game of Thrones is tough at times even for a fan. I got through two seasons of Sons of Anarchy before my attention wandered. The Walking Dead... three episodes. So when I was told about a warts-and-all series about piracy, I went in with almost zero expecations and a firm belief I would not get past the first few episodes. I sat down to watch Black Sails, and over three nights I got through two seasons and desperately wanted more.

John Silver is a chancer, a fast-talker, and an admitted coward. When his ship is taken by the crew of the feared buccaneer Captain Flint, he is willing to do anything to avoid certain death - including passing himself off as a cook. During the assault, a mysterious page from a logbook falls into his possession; a page charting the whereabouts of a near-legendary Spanish treasure ship. Flint has been hunting this prize, and now the means to finding it is within his grasp. However, Silver values his own neck a little more than gold (well, only a little more) and means to cut a deal with anyone else that won't mean an end to his life. But all that treasure is a strong temptation, and soon other more vicious hands are wanting a share of the booty, and maybe no amount of charm will get Silver out of the trouble he is now in. Whatever the case, five million dollars worth of gold is out there for those daring and cunning enough to take it... the question is will anyone live long enough to even lay a hand on it when in this age there is absolutely no honour among thieves, murderers and pirates?

As those names might have revealed, Black Sails is a prequel of sorts to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, essentially setting the stage for how all the loot ended up on the island in the first place. While characters from the book like Captain Flint, Billy Bones and John Silver show up, the series throws into the mix actual historical pirates like Charles Vane and Jack Rackham, painting a quasi-historical drama out of the fiction. It's a neat little idea, and while occasionally the execution of it doesn't always ring true, it is certainly interesting enough to make you want to learn more about the real people these characters were born from. These pirates are not the loveable scallywags we might expect in the Carribean thanks to Johnny Depp. No, these are ugly, violent, foulmouthed and generally unpleasant people (and are likely to either ruin or enhance Talk Like A Pirate Day for you). The simple fact is, much like Game of Thrones, everyone here is morally grey or darker; even the most likable characters are completely mercenary and untrustworthy, and some have numerous hidden agendas and rivalries driving them. Because of this, Black Sails may well leave you wondering who to root for, but it is never, ever dull.

The production is of a high standard; perhaps not as budgeted as GOT, but still very pretty. Both the interiors of the ships and the town of Nassau where much of the action takes place, look as real and lived-in as you could want, though the CGI shots of the ships at sea may leave you wanting. One thing that won't though is the cast in this show - almost everyone sizzles here with menace, hidden depths, wit, and sometimes surprising emotion. Luke Arnold's John Silver is a loveable soul for all his massive flaws, and perhaps the most trustworthy for his untrustworthiness, and shines in every scene, as does Jessica Parker Kennedy as his near-as-damnit female opposite, the sexually ambiguous prostitute Max. Toby Stephens makes Flint into a layered, measured character whose backstory becomes extremely important as the series continues, and Toby Schmitz's Jack Rackham would be very easy to take for a comic relief character but as time passes you begin to see there is much more to him than getting more than his fair share of laughs. For me, the real standouts though are Zach McGowan and Clara Paget as Charles Vane and Anne Bonny. McGowan's Vane seems like a typical gravel-voiced thug, but has a heart under all the muscles that may well end up being his downfall, and Paget's Bonny is really not what you expect from a female pirate - a truly terriflying murder-machine of a woman with dead eyes most of the time, yet so sad and damaged underneath you end up falling a little bit in love with how small and lost she eventually looks when finally wearing a dress.

Needless to say, this series has replaced Game of Thrones as my favorite show and renewed in me the idea I can still get hooked by something. If you watched GOT you will be shocked by nothing here - it has the same appetites for violence, nudity, sex (and sexual violence) and bad language. It has no fantastical elements, being fairly straight historical drama, but it rattles along at such a pace it is very hard not to be swept along with it. For something I began with no expectations for, it has become the box set I now force on friends to try and get them as addicted as I have become. It might not be as epic as some shows, or as intellectually deep, but if you want to see another side to the "romantic" image of piracy, along with some very interesting characters you can't help but want to see more of, Black Sails might well be well worth getting on board with. And remember, if you get lost in there, just shout - crewmates are brothers after all.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2016 1:21 AM GMT


Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead [DVD] [2015]
Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Jay Gallagher
Offered by Amore DVD
Price: £1.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This truck runs on zombies. No zombies, no truck.", 13 Aug. 2015
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Yeah. The Z word. It's become a little tired these days; slow, languid in its movements, stumbling around social commentary and getting blood all over the carpet. You'd be forgiven for seeing zombies and not so much wanting to flee in terror as to just let them eat you to get it all over with. The zombie apocalypse has come, gone, come back again, learned to run and use guns, and pretty much outstayed its groaning welcome. Well, thankfully, Australia (which has often taken very original bites out of genres that have staggered into their field of vision) has done something new with the zombie. Something that's not really been done since Peter Jackson's kiwi gorefest Braindead - kept all the blood and guts, took out the angst, and injected something into those lifeless veins... fun.

Barry is a typical Aussie bloke; good with his hands, practical, likes a beer, loves his family. One night a meteor shower brings with it a zombie plague, and Barry is forced to do the unthinkable when his wife and daughter turn. The only family he has left is his sister Brooke, a photographer who has found herself in her own little slice of living-dead hell. Barry strikes out cross-country to rescue his sister, and along the way meets Benny. Banding together they eventually run into a couple of guys that have discovered something unusual about this particular walking-dead-disaster... since the zombies appeared, combustable fuel has stopped working. Cars no longer function. Meanwhile, Brooke is taken prisoner by some dodgy soldiers and a crackpot scientist that likes huffing nitrous oxide and disco music, and they start performing grotesque experiments on her. And just when all seems lost, Barry and the boys accidentally discover zombie blood burns... time to hook a dead bloke up to the engine and strap a harpoon gun onto the truck, fellas - it's rescue time!

In case you'd not figured it out, Wyrmwood is a little bit crackers. In the very best way, I hasten to add. This isn't an attemp to make zombies funny or cute, this is still all-out horror, it just has that very special brand of Aussie humour stitched right into the heart of it. This movie delivers a lot of laughs, and at the same time throws the blood and guts about just like you'd expect. It has pathos and tragedy, but does not dwell on it, nor does it labour on points like who the real monsters are. Wyrmwood wants to have fun and wants to entertain you. It's not here to make you think about your fellow man - it's about shooting zombies in the head! At the same time, it plays with the traditional "rules" of zombies and makes an entirely new set of parameters for the undead... flammable blood is just one aspect of these creatures, and the film loves to give us a new twist every so often, the biggest of all being the character Brooke eventually develops a very interesting abillity that is a complete game-changer. Much of this movie is a game-changer, to be fair.

This first-time feature by Kiah Roache-Turner is pretty good. The movie never quits, moving at a frantic pace, but never too fast to leave a good gag behind or a gruesome effects setpiece. The cast are delightfully eccentric, as is the script, and the low budget only really shows in a few places. The production really is a little engine that could affair. Plus the changes to the living dead, who have become a pretty non-frightening bunch in these Post-Romero days, give them a new lease of humourous life. It's somewhat crude and blokeish in places, but that's just a hallmark of its Aussie roots. This is a film entirely loyal to the many great Ozploitation movies that went before it, and has cult classic written all over it (and there's a sequel in the offing too if you enjoy it - so the fun's not over). If you think you've seen all zombies have to offer, you've not seen Wyrmwood yet.


Spring [DVD]
Spring [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lou Taylor Pucci
Price: £5.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Vampire, Werewolf, Zombie, Witch or Alien?", 8 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Spring [DVD] (DVD)
I love my horror movies. I love them even more if they have something that makes them stand out from the crowd. I'd read that Spring was just that kind of film, but I also heard it was basically a romance. I was cautious (you say horror and romance in the same sentence and you start thinking of poxy vampires that go twinkle-twinkle in the sunlight), but this movie... really is a very different beast once you get under its skin.

Evan has hit rock bottom; the mother he cared for through cancer has died, he's lost his job after getting in a drunken brawl, and the police are knocking on his door. So on a whim, he takes what little he has and gets on a flight to Italy. Once there he meets a pair of friendly but boorish English lads who rent a car and head down the coast to a small fishing town. Evan is captivated by the landscape, and moreso by the first woman he sees - the beautiful Louise. She is enigmatic and a little evasive, so Evan refuses to accept her offer of strings-free sex - what he wants is to know more about her. So, he gets a casual job with an elderly local farmer and starts to charm Lousie despite her best efforts to keep him at arm's length. Eventually they sleep together, but this seems to trigger a change in Lousie. She claims she cannot see Evan anymore, dismissing his evident heartbreak and pushing him away. Lousie has a secret she will do anything to keep, and when her new lover discovers the truth, it will change everything... something monstrous that she has lived with for centuries and might well prove fatal to Evan. Just how far is he willing to go for love, and will it cost him his life?

Wow. I went into this with somewhat limited expectations, but was absolutely blown away. For a start, this movie is beautful. Everything about it is perfect; framed like a painting, lit like a hazy sunshine-dappled dream. The camera soars through the landscapes like a bird, particularly selling the world of rural Italy like something half-remembered upon waking. The performances are equally sensational. Lou Taylor Pucci gives a performance that is completely real - you really buy that he is just an average, good-hearted guy dealing with a lot of anger and completely out of his depth. Nadia Hilker is gloriously otherworldly and really convinces you she is a conflicted, passionate, slightly sad creature trying to make her way quietly through a bizarre life suddenly having to deal with feelings that frighten her and eventual abject terror that what makes her a "monster" will kill this kind man who just will not run when he's told to. Near to the end of this movie there is a scene where Lousie introduces Evan to her family; the scene is not what you will be expecting having read this, but Hilker's caliber as an actor is utterly amazing in this moment, and I found myself sitting in front of the screen crying my eyes out at the thought of what the character of Louise has lived through, and it just speaks volumes about her ability. If I don't see more of her in the future, there is no justice in the world.

There really isn't much more I can say at this stage. If you like romance movies, this is one of the very best. If you like horror movies, this is a low-key but highly involving one. Both things are a whole, too - this isn't a genre movie tacked onto another one. Both parts function together and support each other to a degree where one needs the other to work as well as they do. There isn't much gore or violence by most standards, but what you do get is a very memorable monster movie with a creature that actively confounds any attempt to catalogue it and just when you think you've figured out what she is, she sprouts tentacles and bug eyes. Spring is a truly genre-blending experience and easily the best movie I have seen so far this year... other movies will have to go a very long way to do better. If you want a movie that will stay with you long after its conclusion, like the very best of uneasy dreams or the most deeply-felt love affair, you can do much, much worse than Spring (you could be watching Twilight for starters). An unmissable little monster if there ever was one.


HARLEY QUINN HC VOL 01 HOT IN THE CITY (Harley Quinn (Numbered))
HARLEY QUINN HC VOL 01 HOT IN THE CITY (Harley Quinn (Numbered))
by Amanda Conner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "But first, you wanna meet my beaver?", 8 May 2015
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I've loved Harley since the first time she bounced onto the screen in the Batman animated series. She was a goofy, perky, dangerous little antidote to the unpleasantness of the Joker and some of the Bat's more monstrous foes... a little bit sweet, a little bit sad, and a lot loveable. Sure, you'd probably not want to be in a confined space with her, but she's a step up from being locked in a room with Killer Croc. Also, as the years passed she developed into a character much bigger than her remit as the Joker's put-upon moll. Now she has a new series, and being New 52 content, I was a little cynical. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.

Harley Quinn is out on her own - the Joker has vanished and she's at a loose end. A surprise notification of an inheritence has her upping sticks from Gotham to Coney Island, NYC, where she finds herself the landlady of an apartment building with some colourful tenants, a burlesque jiggle-joint and a famous-murderers waxwork museum. Oh, and a whole heap of inherited debts. So Harley has to get (shock, horror) a real job! Don't think for a minute though that Harley's life will lose its chaotic, violent and downright murderous edge. Not a chance. Harley, her best gal-pal Poison Ivy, and new friends Big Tony, Sy Borgman and Bernie the Beaver (an actual stuffed beaver who only Harley hears talk), will find themselves facing an army of assassins, a gaggle of old-aged terrorists, a rival roller-derby team or two, a busload of lust-crazed convicts, and (perhaps worst of all for Bernie) a pack of starving doggies! Coney Island just got a lot more wild and blood-spattered as everyone's favorite crazy lady takes a nibble on the Big Apple.

Now I know New 52 Harley can polarise people a little. Sure, this Harley is a little less damaged and vulnerable, but this Harley is out on her own and forging her own destiny. She has little need for the Joker, and seems just dandy on her own (though for her sins, she's still kinda hung up on the pasty-faced rat). She also cares about people beyond Poison Ivy - she's motivated to care for her new friends, old people, cute widdle fuwwy animals, and most of all YOU the reader. Harley wants you to love her too, and if you think she rules, or she just makes you drool, it's all good with her. She wants to change things, be a hero (albeit a crazy dangerous one) and generally get her life back on some kind of normal(ish) track. She even goes back to being a psychiatrist... and part-time roller derby girl and mommy to an animal shelter's worth of "liberated" pets. In her own demented way she's motivated by a need to make things better for people. In case that worries you, she still hands out her own brand of violence to people that get in her way (and boy are some of these deaths memorable - one guy gets exhaled to death by her blowing into his life support machine). These new adventures are not lacking in lunacy and general Harley-like behaviour. In fact, even to a long-term fan like me they seem more in tune with the original Harley than some of her adventures in Suicide Squad. No bad thing. And the comedy here is gloriously self-referential (when Harley opts to get rid of the "poop problem" her collection of animals creates, she opts for using a giant catapult on the roof... and manages to score a direct hit on the DC Comics HQ).

The driving power behind this new set of adventures is the team-up of Amanda Conner and husband Jimmy Palmiotti on the writing side of the book. The art, by Chad Hardin, is jaunty and bouncy and just perfect for Harley Quinn, but the writing here is the real star of the show. It just crackles with wry humour and outright kookiness (and a lot of beaver jokes - thank you Bernie). Conner and Palmiotti *get* Harley and are intent on turning her into a postmodern bad girl with a heart of gold. Sure, she had one before, but away from a lot of the other Batverse characters she really gets a chance to shine and mature into a new kind of character in the current stable of deathly-serious, portentious characters in the DC universe. She's a ray of sunshine, one severely overdue at the moment. Granted, she might not go down so easy with diehard fans of Classic Harley, but in my opinion, this one book on the weight of the writing and the pure off-the-wall enjoyment it provides is a breath of fresh air in DC and perhaps the only thing worth reading in the New 52... trust me when I say you need a little Harley in your life, and this book will give you your prescription. And then some.


Sunstone Volume 1 (Sunstone Tp)
Sunstone Volume 1 (Sunstone Tp)
by Stjepan Sejic
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You don't wear robes often, do you?", 11 April 2015
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As I've grown older, I've come to the very reasonable conclusion that the one thing that really, really gets me where it counts when I'm reading a book, is romance. I love the stuff. The worst thing though is that it is usually written so damn badly; rafts of stilted dialogue that sounds like a script from a bad rom-com as opposed to real life, contrived situations and leaden cliches, and nothing you can relate to because the characters seem to be selling you the idea of romance as opposed to the relatable reality. And when it comes to my favoured world of comic books, it's often way beyond bad and just plain stinks. This is why when I discovered Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise I was blown away. After that, I thought I'd never see a book that came close to SiP for sheer wonderful reality. Then I found Sunstone.

Lisa is a young woman that wants to experiment with her sexual boundaries. Ally is a woman that knows where hers are, but is terribly lonely. When they meet in an internet chatroom and start talking about BDSM, their lives begin to change forever. When Lisa suggests they take the next step and meet in person, both are terrified of what might happen. And sparks fly. Lisa takes her first steps into a world of ropes and restraints, with Ally firmly guiding her, and between them a quirky, kinky romance begins to blossom. Neither of them expect it to happen - Ally worries things are getting too emotional too fast, Lisa's peers are judgemental about her relationship with another woman - but when you meet someone that completes you, should you keep playing your prescribed roles of Mistress and Submissive, or do you just fall in love?

Just in case you hadn't picked this up by now, this comic book is very much for adults. It has graphic sex, but it is not gratuitous or crass. In fact, it's the complete opposite. It makes the polarising subject of bondage and makes it incredibly tender and loving. This is primarily a romance, and that is what comes through in this book in spades. It has all the awkwardness and humour of real life, and the sexy passion of a blooming relationship. The author/artist Stjepan Sejic manages to pull off something quite miraculous by making his characters seem real, and the artwork is rendered in beautiful warm shades and has a glorious fluidity and life to it. It has a cinematic quality, and embraces the reality of BDSM in a way that makes 50 Shades of Grey look like the timid, suburban, and disingenuous handling of the subject that it is. Sunstone manages to communicate a reality, one that is sweet and loving and naughty.

I confess I didn't go into this book blind; I am a fan of Sejic's work already, and had begun reading Sunstone when he posted it online. It is though a book that does something I didn't think was possible - it's a romance comic that I think comes very, very close to the high mark of Strangers in Paradise. It's a more adult, sexually explicit book, but one that has a warm beating heart behind it, and a wonderful sweetness that's hard to resist. If LBGT stories, or BDSM, are of interest to you, you'd be mad not to read Sunstone. And if you're just wanting to read a sexy, realistic love story, you should read it too. 50 Shades of Beige it ain't.


Some Girls [DVD]
Some Girls [DVD]
Dvd ~ Adelayo Adedayo
Price: £7.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Do you want one of my mum's tablets? They're really calming."..., 13 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Some Girls [DVD] (DVD)
I don't usually make much time for tv shows, let alone new comedy. My comedy heroes belong to a different era - Rising Damp, Porridge, Citizen Smith, Fawlty Towers - or belong to specific moments in my life, like Spaced. I think it might be a generational thing, as almost every new sitcom (from this side of the pond at least) is in my grouchy eyes as funny as anesthetic-free dental surgery; I've been a stupid teenaged lad once already, so all the stupid, sweary, sexually-inept, drunken, vomity antics of lads don't entertain me. I've lived that sitcom and I don't need the reruns. Modern comedy was something of a dead end to me. Then four teenaged girls came along, and gave me hope for the future.

Viva Bennett is a not-so-average schoolgirl from a London estate, trying to get through the usual pitfalls of grades and boys. Her support in life comes from her best friends; the aggressive and sweary Holli, the sarcastic and tightly-wound Saz, and the dim-but-nice Amber. Viva's home life is far from easy, least of all because her father has taken her cranky PE teacher in as his girlfriend, and dropped the bombshell they're expecting a baby. The other girls have their own issues; Amber has a possesive, sex-mad boyfriend she can't bring herself to dump, Holli is more or less bringing up her brothers and sisters by herself, and Saz is chafing under her strict Sikh upbringing. Together though, they might just make it through their teens without getting kicked out of school, going mental or getting pregnant.

Yes, Some Girls does sound like a pretty standard sitcom. It really isn't though. Sure, it has a sprinkling of crass, vulgar humour, a lot of swearing, and some questionable examples are occasionally set, but they are all part of a teenaged life that is completely real and recognisable. It rarely strays into complete caricature, unlike a lot of other "youth" comedies, and it's not obsessed with bodily functions (probably because the characters are female, and less likely to get into truly stupid scrapes). It also has a lot of heart to it; there's a very genuine warmth in the writing, and this in turn makes the whole thing a lot more real. Sitcoms tend to be by nature pretty throwaway things, there for a half hour of entertainment and not much more, but the knowing portrayal of friendship makes this series stand head and shoulders above many, many other series in the same vein. Another strong point comes from the four principles. While all of them perform with considerable skill and verve, Alice Feldgate's Amber is one of the most adorably thick characters to ever grace the small screen, and Natasha Jonas's Holli is absolutely wonderful when she flies into a rage about, well, pretty much anything.

Sure, this is a truly bias review. I fell in love with this series after one episode. Because of the theme, it draws a lot of comparisons to The Inbetweeners, but I'm yet to fall in love with that show in the slightest. For some reason, Some Girls just works (perhaps because it is a lot more grounded and believable). It shows restraint where it should, and behind the lipgloss and school uniforms, manages to show a funny side to teenage life from a perspective that is often missing from these kinds of sitcoms: a female one. This one series about some funny girls is for me now the reason I pay the Licence Fee. Not a bad job, Aunty Beeb. Here's to a couple more series of it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2014 9:17 AM GMT


Empowered Volume 8
Empowered Volume 8
by Adam Warren
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Some of us struggle with secrets that never needed to be kept...", 1 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Empowered Volume 8 (Paperback)
Adam Warren has once again raised the bar on Empowered. It really is becoming one of the stars of my current reading habits, something I would never have imagined when I opened up the first volume. But now I've gone from sceptic to full-blown fan of the superhero you want at your back when you need a knot untying.

Plucky superheroine Empowered is still finding herself in the unenviable position as the good guy most often found tied up and with a gag in her mouth instead of saving the day. Her comrades in her team, the Superhomeys, are still treating her with a mixture of pity and contempt, though the ringleader of this perpetual hazing, the magic-powered Sistah Spooky, is about to ask for Empowered's help with a potentially suicidal plan to rescue the soul of someone she loves from Hell itself. Along the way the unlikely duo will have to steal a weapon that may well start an interstellar war once someone notices it is missing, Sistah Spooky will have to face up to some of the horrible things she's done to Emp, and even then all bets are off as to whether their crazy plan will work, never mind if either of them will make it back alive... because breaking into Hell is the easiest part.

This latest volume is without a doubt the best yet. Adam Warren continues his trend of making this initially extremely comedic series into a much more deep and serious ongoing story, which while not quite as serious as the bloodbath-tastic previous volume, certainly has the most emotional resonance yet. While we do get to see Empowered demonstrate how she gets through her low moments with some well-earned victory, Sistah Spooky is the real focus of this book. We get to see a fairly unlikable character facing up the fact that she's been truly horrible to Emp for nothing, and how much the loss of her estranged girlfriend has cut her to the bone, so much so she cooks up a plan to save her from Hell that is as mad as it is selfless. The character's weaknesses are thrown into introspective relief, and by the end even the biggest hater will have a soft spot for the mean girl of the series, and a reminder that sometimes the things we try to hide from others are not worth the pain the subterfuge causes ourselves or others.

While this book pretty much closes one ongoing storyline, it opens up several new ones, and frankly I'm seriously excited to see where Empowered will go next. The title really does just go from strength to strength, and if you've had any doubts about dipping your toe into the adventures of a bondage-prone superheroine trying to make her way in the world, this book should erase any concerns about this being a full-blown classic in the making.

And just who was that handsome fellow teaching the art class at the beginning of the book? I wonder, Mr Warren, I wonder...


Inferno [DVD] [1980]
Inferno [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ Ryan Hilliard
Offered by ____THE_BEST_ON_DVD____
Price: £29.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Come closer... so I can whisper to you...", 29 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Inferno [DVD] [1980] (DVD)
I'm a little bit of an Argento fan, so I freely admit going into this with bias. I absolutely adore Suspiria, so it's only natural that I'd be interested in sitting down and soaking up the sequel (a movie that has been bafflingly difficult to get hold of in the UK over the years). The Arrow release of Inferno has given me a slice of Argento's chromatic nightmare pie for Christmas - one that has proved to be a lot better than I expected.

Mark Elliott, a musicology student studying in Rome, recieves a letter from his sister in New York filled with seemingly paranoid ramblings about witches and the apartment building she lives in there. Travelling to the US (and seemingly haunted by eerie events along the way) Mark finds his sister has vanished, and when he tries to find out what has happened to her the other distinctly odd inhabitants of the building begin to turn up dead. All roads lead back to an ancient book, The Three Mothers, and the confessions of an alchemist who was responsible for building the homes of three witches. Mark discovers that his sister has been living as a tenant of one of them, and the sorceress is preparing for an inevitable date with destiny, one she intends to drag eveyone who has discovered her secret along with too. Will our rather hapless hero discover the truth, and if he does, will he wind up joining everyone else in the fires of damnation?

Inferno is classic Argento nigtmare fuel. It is ruled, much as Susperia was, by a hazy, disjointed waltz towards a conslusion, much like someone waking up from a bad dream and remembering fragments of it as they pass into wakefulness. Anyone going into this film expecting a solid, conclusive narrative is going to walk away disappointed and probably baffled. While there is certainly a progression from A to B to C through the movie, it is one broken up with vignettes and sudden bouts of violence that seem to come out of nowhere. Characters connected to the plot seem to fall out of the air like snowflakes, as do the sinister agents of Mater Tenebrarum (including a beautiful woman holding a cat and speaks silently, a bookbinding shadowy giant with claws, and most bizarre of all a knife-happy hamburger chef), and Argento once again hits us with creepy crawlies and household pets-gone-bad. Inferno is, if nothing else, a brilliant attempt to make an experience more akin to viewing someone else's nightmare than sitting down and watching a film.

Visually, the film is a feast of semiotics and colour; sets and lighting segregate the movie world into stark reds, frigid blues and sickly greens on cue, and throw into this shrieking bags of drowning cats, men being nibbled to death by hundreds of rats, long shadows on walls and heroines being chased down staircases and along corridors, the whole thing is filled with images that stay with you long after the movie's conclusion. It also features a signature prog-rock soundtrack, this time by Keith Emmerson, which is much less subtle and tinkly than Argento's own score for Suspiria, and more full-on progressive bombast running wild with Verdi. Inferno, whether it makes sense to you or not, is a menacing banquet of colour and sound.

This is also the first movie I've picked up from Arrow. I've got to admit, their lurid, T&A heavy new covers to their releases put me off massively, like they're trying to make all their catalogue look like tawdry grindhouse flicks or cheap VHS bootlegs from the 80's. However, I was extremely surprised by the serious quality of the package within; replete with great extras, a seriously sharp print of the film, and a crystal-clear soundtrack. Plus the covers are all reversable and interchangable, so I have the best of everything in one DVD. I've heard that Arrow's quality can be patchy, but this one at least is absolutely bang-on. So, whether you're an Argento fan looking for a potentially-definitive version for your collection, or you're looking for something a little more unusual and challenging than your average cut of horror, give Inferno a whirl... the flames will keep you nice and warm at the very least.


The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
The Cabin In The Woods [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Hemsworth
Price: £3.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He has a Husband-Bulge...", 12 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cabin In The Woods [DVD] (DVD)
Maybe it's worth laying something on the line here before I start - I don't think this movie was made for kids that like horror movies. I think it's more of a movie for horror fans old enough to remember the bombastic, non-pc, topless girls and machetes in heads scares of 70s and 80s cinema. If you're unable to grasp how gloriously silly those old-school dead-teenagers-at-a-summer-camp and what they were about, you might miss the joke in this film.

A group of college-kid stereotypes go off to a cabin in the woods to have the usual weekend of alcohol, drugs and (gasp) premarital sex. Oh, but wait, they aren't stereotypes at all (except maybe the stoner). And everything they do seems to be being monitored by guys in ties and labcoats in some kind of secret government facility. And the kids are being manipulated from the get-go into becoming stereotypes (except maybe the stoner). And the killer zombies in the woods are... ok, that would be telling, but suffice to say nothing about this typical 1980's slasher-movie plot is typical, and by the end everything you ever thought you knew about what happens to poor young 'uns in horror movies is turned on its head. And you just might understand why everyone splits up and dies stupidly in these kinds of flicks.

This is maybe the most Whedonlike Joss Whedon movie ever. It's knowingly clever (which is mildly irritating at times, but pop culture and in-jokes are the guy's hallmark), ironic as all hell and faultlessly crafted, and has plenty of those Whedon-tastic funny one liners. Each time you think you have a grip on it, Cabin in the Woods changes tack and hits you with something else that seems entirely nonsensical, but it all makes sense in the end. The kids are (or at least become) the recognisable monster cannon-fodder of old, and the growing cavalcade of monsters are all ones you've seen before in those kinds of films. This isn't so much a sensible horror movie, it's a glorious celebration of everything that was dumb and fun about those pre-torture-porn days of horror; a salute to friends in a darkened room or a drive in, downing beers and mocking the teens getting turned into shishkabob and waiting for the hot blonde to take her top off.

If you want shocks and violence that makes you wince, you are not going to find it here. But if you're of the right kind of age to remember when Jason Voorhees was the slaughter-king of Camp Crystal Lake, or when your dreams weren't safe from Freddy Krueger, and you'd have to be some kind of idiot to read a passage from an old book, or listen to a reel-to-reel you found in a cabin in the woods, you'll understand this movie in a few seconds. It's a tribute to more innocent horror; the kind you enjoyed for being unreal and silly and titillating and still a little forbidden back in those days gone by. And if you're like me, a member of Generation Evil Dead, you'll love this beautiful, homage-tastic joke, in all its many shades of spurting red stuff. A real modern gem.


The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia
The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia
by Phil Jimenez
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.22

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Coffee-Table Wondie-Bible..., 11 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Now my love of superhero comics is terribly limited; I'm a jaded old cynic who immediately starts tearing chunks out character's backstories, motivations and actions like a particularly hungry and grouchy bear. For these very reasons I have very limited patience with The Bat and Supes. On the other hand, I've always liked Wonder Woman. Wondie may well have gone in some strange directions over the years, and gone through some pretty radical transformations in comparison to other big-league characters, but I've always been drawn to the promise of a different kind of heroism on the page she sometimes represents.

While some of the directions she's travelled in have been a bit questionable to me, I've stuck by Wondie. What this book represents is that whole journey encapsulated in the form of an encyclopedia; an A to Z of all Wonder Woman's most relevant elements since her birth in 1941 right up to the present day. Every villain is here, every ally, every friend, family-member, loved one, place called home, piece of equipment... you name it. If you want to know about Wonder Woman, it's all in here. Considering the sheer volume of material, it shouldn't come as too much of a shock that this book is huge and hefty, well illustrated and is immaculately presented as a focal point for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

I should add that this book doesn't cover the various people that have worked on Wondie over the years. There's nothing on her writers, artists, or anything on her Bowie-like changing with the times and the workings behind it. This is an encyclopedia of the elements of the character's fictional world. Nor is there anything regarding the various other versions of the character, such as the classic Linda Carter television series or any of Wonder Woman's animated appearances. Anyone wanting to know about the deep history of William Moulton Marston and the unusual backdrop that led to Wonder Woman's creation might well be a little disappointed with this book. On the other hand, someone wanting to compliment their collection, or just learn more about Wondie's character universe, will probably find this book a beguiling way to spend a few hours. If you're a fan of the Lady with the Lasso, this book is a must-have addition to your collection.


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